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Slowly but steadily, an enormous mass of warm rock is rising beneath part of New England. But don’t worry—a major volcanic eruption isn’t likely for millions of years.
“The upwelling we detected is like a hot air balloon, and we infer that something is rising up through the deeper part of our planet under New England,” says Vadim Levin, a geophysicist and professor of earth and planetary sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and lead author of a new study in Geology.
“It is not Yellowstone (National Park)-like, but it’s a distant relative in the sense that something relatively small—no more than a couple hundred miles across—is happening.”
“Our study challenges the established notion of how the continents on which we live behave,” Levin says. “It challenges the textbook concepts taught in introductory geology classes.”
Researchers tapped seismic data through the National Science Foundation’s EarthScope program in which thousands of seismic measurement devices 46.6 miles apart covered the continental United States for two years.
The EarthScope program is designed to reveal the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the processes that cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.